Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Egypt violence, JP Morgan probe, group singing

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What to watch for today

Death toll mounting in Egypt.  Around 40 supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi were killed on Sunday, taking the official death toll since Wednesday to around 830. Egypt’s interim cabinet met Sunday to discuss the recent bloodshed, but didn’t announce any major decisions. Meanwhile the European Union is considering the suspension of €5 billion in aid to Egypt (paywall).

Deadline for Detroit’s creditors. Banks, bond insurers and employee pension funds have their last chance to file their objections to the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history. If Detroit’s bankruptcy petition is rejected by the federal judge, creditors could sue the city if it defaults on payments.

Eli Lily’s patent battle to protect its future. The pharma giant is defending a patent for its lung-cancer treatment Alimta, which generated 11% of total company revenue last year. It is an unusual suit (paywall), because the patent covers the method of administering Alimta with certain vitamins designed to mitigate side effects, and not the drug itself. If Lily wins it could keep low-cost copies off the US market until 2022, but a loss could clear the way for generics to enter the market in 2017.

A hunt for chemical weapons in Syria. A team of United Nations chemical weapons experts will begin investigations into the possible use of chemical weapons in the civil war. Both president Bashar al-Assad’s government and the rebels fighting him have accused each other of using chemical weapons.

Over the weekend

JP Morgan’s latest run-in with the regulators. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has reportedly opened an investigation into whether the bank hired the children of powerful Chinese officials to help it win business in the country. For JPMorgan, the hiring probe comes as the bank is under intense scrutiny following the $6 billion trading loss it suffered in the “London whale” derivatives scandal.

New homes in China got more expensive. Prices rose in 69 of the 70 cities in July from a year earlier, and big metropolitan centers of Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai posted record gains. The property inflation complicates policymakers’ task of trying to cool the sector without stifling growth elsewhere.

Alibaba was exploring ways for founder Jack Ma to retain control after an IPO. The Chinese ecommerce company and the Hong Kong stock exchange are reportedly discussing creative ways (paywall) to enable Ma and other managers to maintain control over Alibaba if it lists on the exchange, which is in the running along with New York for the IPO. Hong Kong does not allow a dual-class structure that’s commonly used in the US to allow key shareholders to maintain majority voting control  after the company goes public. Alibaba’s IPO could come this year and value the fast-growing company in the range of $100 billion.

India reassured investors. Prime minister Manmohan Singh ruled out further capital controls (paywall) and asserted that the country wasn’t headed for a crisis despite its large current-account deficit. Last week, the rupee hit a fresh all-time low after the government imposed limits on foreign investments by individuals and companies, a move interpreted by the markets as a sign of desperation.

Consumer spending powered Israel’s economy. Second-quarter GDP growth came in at a surprisingly brisk 5.1% as consumers rushed to buy big-ticket items such as homes and cars ahead of a June 1 increase in value-added-tax.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on the mystery of China’s missing millionaires. “The starkest trend from 2012 is that the net growth of China’s millionaire ranks is slowing fast.  In 2012, even as the tally in some areas surged, a slew of provinces actually shed millionaires. Zhejiang province, China’s entrepreneurial hotbed, had 1,000 fewer millionaires in 2012 than it did in 2011, while Inner Mongolia lost 500. Numbers in Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, and Hebei took a hit as well.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The Suez Canal will remain open even as Egypt burns. The 120-mile canal is too important to Egypt’s economy for it to be allowed to close.

China needs a concrete structural reform roadmap. Indecisiveness on migration and financial market reforms will undermine growth prospects.

Indonesia is failing to learn from India’s economic misery. Reluctance to raise interest rates could make Indonesia’s current account deficit unsustainable.

Electric cars could strain the electric grid. Utility companies will struggle to meet the huge spike in power demand on neighborhood grids.

Telecom and cable providers should be free to sell consumer data the way internet companies can. Why should utilities be held to a different standard (paywall) than Google and Facebook?

Surprising discoveries

Shadow-inspecting algorithms can spot forged photos. A new technique can determine whether the shadows in images are physically consistent with a single light source, something humans have trouble doing on their own.

Waste carbon dioxide from power plants can be harvested to create even more electricity. Dutch scientists argue that the CO2 emissions can be pumped through water or other liquids to generate worldwide the equivalent of 400 times the output of the Hoover Dam.

Breastfeeding may delay breast cancer. A study shows that breastfeeding for longer than six months can delay the onset of breast cancer by a decade.

The iPad can tell whether someone is paying attention. New software uses the device’s camera to track a user’s eye movements to ensure that employees pay attention during company training.

Group singing can lower stress and elevate endorphins. Bad singers get the benefits as well.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, breakthroughs in photo forensics, thoughts on telecom privacy, and favorite workplace singing repertoires to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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